More than a few Angelenos sighed when Sushi Roku closed its doors on Third Street, but kids, ROKU, IDG’s flagship concept is Sushi Roku plus so much more. In the Hamburger Hamlet begat sleek Italian RivaBella space, ROKU is equal parts sushi and sashimi, innovative 6-course omakase, and cutting edge teppanyaki experience. The 8,000 square-foot indoor-outdoor space serves as the hub for the IDG team to experiment and hone dishes for the brand’s other Japanese concepts in L.A., Newport Beach, Vegas, Scottsdale, and Dubai.
“With ROKU, IDG will present teppanyaki, a concept with a distinct perception, in a creative new way. For us, it is important to showcase our vision of teppan style dining with a polished display of culinary mastery knife work, and exceptional ingredients,” says Lee Maen, Partner/Founder of Innovative Dining Group.
The restaurant has undergone a swift transformation from its days as an Italian villa, now featuring sweeping grand mahogany windows pivoting towards Sunset.In the entrance, a twenty-foot custom-painted mural by local emerging street artist Hans Haveron depicts Japanese iconography in bold black, grey, and red hues.
The patio dining area has a resort vibe with circular center booths upholstered in a playful floral pattern surrounded by an eclectic combo of upholstered booths, settees, and mid-century hair pin chairs, leather armchairs, upholstered side chairs, and flamed white oak tables. There’s also a bar and lounge area, the set of the pretty nifty bar program, which features one of the most extensive collections of Japanese whisky this side of Tokyo. Oh, yeah, there’s sake, crafted cocktails, and an exclusively Japanese beer list
The back of the restaurant houses the sushi bar, crafted from live-edge walnut where walk-in guests can enjoy sushi and omakase. Huge sake barrels suspended above set the sushi area from the teppanyaki where four grills imported from Japan pair with a custom walnut top. Parties of up to 28 can experience an authentic Japanese cooking experience. Three colorful hoods create a backdrop for the culinary performance.
We did lunch at ROKU on a drizzly recent day in the front space, which like RivaBella, has a retractable roof for those sunny SoCal days. Sweet.
Sashimi and other innovative Japanese dishes. That’s why we’re here, right? Our server prepared Toro Tartare tableside, which he dished into a lacy spun rice dish for an artistic take on spicy tuna on a rice cake. (Don’t worry, Sushi Roku’s Hanabi, spicy tuna on rice cake, is still on the menu!)
The Tuna Poke was a souped-up version of one of those bowls you might find on a Hawaiian food truck, prepared with soy and chili oil over bamboo rice, all in an artisan bowl. Can we talk about that rice?
Salmon Caviar combined salmon sashimi with wrapped daikon, shiso, and osetra for a clean tasting dish.
We also enjoyed the Fluke Sashimi. The delicate fluke was complemented by the kumquat yuzu vinaigrette.
You know how a meal of sashimi can leave you still a bit hungry? Not at ROKU. We are in love with the Sea Bass Sliders with panko-crusted fish and tonkatsu tartare on little slider buns. Spicy Prawns are served with chili sauce and cilantro. And the Kabocha and Butternut Squash, oven roasted with sesame-chili paste? We practically fought over the last morsel. In fact, we had to have the recipe, which we’ve shared below!
Of course, you can order mochi for dessert but why would you when you could have Pumpkin Fritters or the deconstructed Zen S’mores dessert, a garden of graham cracker sand, green tea truffles, house-made marshmallows, and chocolate, served with marshmallow and chocolate sauces. Warm the marshmallow over the flame.
We can’t wait to come back for the teppanyaki.
Kabocha & Butternut Squash
Chef Tyson Wong
4 oz Butternut squash, peeled and cut 2″ long and 1/4″ thick
4 oz Kabocha, peeled and cut 2″ long and 1/4″ thick
1 Tbs White sesame seeds
2 Tbs Sliced green onions
1 tsp Sesame oil
1/4 C Soy sauce (or Tamari for GF)
1 Tbs Brown sugar
1/4 C Rice vinegar
1 Tbs Korean chili paste (Gochujang)
1. Oven roast the Kabocha and Butternut squash at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes, until light golden brown
2. To make the sauce, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar and gochujang
3. Place squash in a sauté pan and add the gochujang mixture to glaze the squash
4. Add the sesame seeds and scallions
5. Place into a serving bowl and sprinkle with sesame oil
9201 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, California 90069